May 2009

Wedding Album The Same-Sex Couple

It’s family first, as a same-sex union gets put to the test  by Shannon Land

Raymond and Byron Moya, with their twin daughters.

Two Latino guys with shaved heads hang out in a bar, drinking beer straight from the bottle. Then, mid-conversation, they reach out and kiss on the lips.

For some, the remarkable thing about this kiss is that it’s between two men—in conservative River­side County, no less. But for marrieds coping with the demands of young kids at home, what’s more notable is the passion. Byron and Raymond Moya have been together for six years, legally married (in an elaborate Phantom of the Opera–themed ceremony) since last August. But they still talk like newlyweds, overcoming the exhaustion that comes with raising the twin two-year-old girls they adopted at birth and struggling with Raymond’s diagnosis of multiple myeloma. (He’s in remission.)

The Moyas are like every other Southern California family. “If you were to see us out barbecuing while our girls played in their red wagon,” Raymond says, “and then blurred our images in that picture, you wouldn’t know it’s two dads.”

Byron and Ramond Moya toast their union. But they are different, too, by virtue of being among the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who got hitched last year between June, when the California Supreme Court first declared same-sex marriage legal, and November 4, when the California electorate passed Prop. 8. As such, the validity of their marriage hangs in the balance—even if their relationship is rock solid. The California Supreme Court is currently considering the constitutionality of Prop. 8 and is scheduled to deliver its ruling any day now.

Meanwhile, the Moyas carry on as a hospital admissions clerk and a labor organizer, even as they evolve into marriage-equality activists. “From neighbors to grocery-store clerks,” Raymond says, “our community has embraced us as a gay married couple. We don’t have to hide who we are.”

Byron and Raymond are part of the UCLA-based online photo project 13lovestories.com, which chronicles gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender married couples.